Iraq Oil Exports at 2.417 Mln Bpd in March 2013

Source: Reuters 4/3/2013, Location: Middle East

Iraq's total oil production in March was 3.150 million barrels per day and crude exports for the month were 2.417 million bpd, from 2.538 million bpd the previous month, the oil minister said.

Iraq shipped 2.102 million bpd from the southern oil hub of Basra and 315,000 bpd from the northern fields around Kirkuk, including 15,000 barrels trucked to Jordan, according to the State Oil Marketing Organisation.

Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said he expects exports to be at higher levels for next months as no delays are expected from bad weather in the Gulf and more crude shipments are forecast when the Majnoon oilfield resumes production in May 2013.

Royal Dutch Shell will resume operations at Iraq's Majnoon oilfield on May 1, with initial production of 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), and is expected to hit 200,000 bpd before the end of 2013, Luaibi said.

Luaibi said oil major BP is also holding meetings with technical teams from the state-run North Oil company to discuss a plan to spend around $100 million as part of a major plan to arrest declining production at the Kirkuk oilfield.

"We're waiting for BP to present its major development plan for the Kirkuk oilfield, and only then can we decide when a final deal could be reached," Luaibi told reporters.

Kirkuk's oil riches are at the centre of a crisis within the national government of Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish parties over how to share power, increasing worries the country may relapse into wide-scale sectarian bloodshed.

The ethnically mixed city is part of the country's so-called disputed territories claimed both by the Arab-led central government and the autonomous Kurdistan region in the north. It sits on 8.5 billion barrels of crude reserves.

Luabi said failure of Kurdistan region to export 250,000 bpd since the start of this year has affected total export levels and damaged federal coffers.

"The oil ministry has drafted a report on the damage caused by stoppage of crude flow from Kurdish region and found that Iraq lost around $2.4 billion for the first three months of 2013," Luaibi said.

The Kurdistan regional government (KRG) halted exports through the Baghdad-controlled Iraq-Turkey pipeline last December in a dispute over payments to oil companies operating in Kurdistan.

Iraq's central government and the KRG are in a long-running dispute over how to exploit the country's crude reserves and divide the revenues.

Baghdad says it alone has the authority to control export of the world's fourth largest oil reserves, while the Kurds say their right to do so is enshrined in Iraq's federal constitution, drawn up following the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

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